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Joint Statement: End the expansion of the EU’s EURODAC database

04/12/2023, Athens/London

Europe’s (digital) borders must fall

End the expansion of the EU’s EURODAC database

Civil society calls for an end to the expansion of EURODAC, the EU database for the registration of asylum-seekers. EURODAC, designed to collect and store migrants’ data, is being transformed into an expansive, violent surveillance tool that will treat people seeking protection as crime suspects This will include children as young as 6 whose fingerprints and facial images will be integrated into the database.

EURODAC is being expanded to enforce the EU’s discriminatory and hostile asylum and migration policies: increasing deportations, detention and a broader climate of racialised criminalisation. The endless expansion of EURODAC must be stopped.

What is EURODAC?

Since its inception in 2003, the EU has repeatedly expanded the scope, size and function of EURODAC.

Created to implement the Dublin system and record the country responsible for processing asylum claims, it originally stored only limited information, mostly fingerprints, on few categories of people: asylum-seekers and people apprehended irregularly crossing the EU’s borders. From the start, this system has been a means to enforce a discriminatory and harmful deportation regime, premised on a false framework of ‘illegality’ in migration.

After a first reform in 2013 allowing police to access the database, the EU continues to detach EURODAC from its asylum framework to re-package it as a system pursuing ‘wider immigration purposes’. The changes were announced in 2020 in the EU Migration Pact, the EU's so-called ‘fresh start on migration’. Rather than a fresh start, the proposals contain the harshest proposals in the history of the EU's migration policy: more detention, more violence, and a wider, evolved tool of surveillance in the EURODAC database to track, push back and deport ‘irregular’ migrants.

How is the EURODAC expansion endangering people’s human rights?

More people included into the database: Concretely EURODAC would collect a vast swathe of personal data (photographs, copies of travel and identity documents, etc.) on a wider range of people: those resettled, relocated, disembarked following search and rescue operations and arrested at borders or within national territories.

Data collection on children: The reform would also lower the threshold for storing data in the system to the age of six, extend the data retention periods and weaken the conditions for law enforcement consultation of the database.

Including facial images into the database: The reform also proposes the expansion to include facial images. Comparisons and searches run in the database can be based on facial recognition – a technology notoriously error-prone and unreliable that threatens the essence of dignity, nondiscrimination and privacy rights. The database functions as a genuine tool of violence as it authorises the use of coercion against asylum-seekers who refuse to give up their data, such as detention and forced collection. Not only do these changes contradict European data protection standards, they demonstrate how the EU’s institutional racism creates differential standards between migrants and non-migrants.

Access by law enforcement: EURODAC’s revamp also facilitates its connection to other existing EU migration and police databases as part of the so-called ‘interoperability’ initiative - the creation of an overarching EU information system designed to increase police identity checks of non-EU nationals, leading to increased racial profiling. These measures also unjustly equate asylum seekers with criminals. Lastly, the production of statistics from EURODAC data and other databases is supposed to inform future policymaking on migration movement trends. In reality, it is expected that they will facilitate illegal pushbacks and overpolicing of humanitarian assistance.

End the expansion of EURODAC

The EURODAC reform is a gross violation of the right to seek international protection, a chilling conflation of migration and criminality and an out-of-control surveillance instrument. The farright is already anticipating the next step, calling for the collection of DNA.

The EURODAC reform is one of many examples of the digitalisation of Fortress Europe. It is inconsistent with fundamental rights and will undermine frameworks of protection and rights of people on the move.

We demand:

  1. That the EU institutions immediately reject the expansion of EURODAC.

  2. For legislators to prevent further violence and ensure protection at and within borders when rethinking the EURODAC system.

  3. For legislators and EU Member States to establish safe and regular pathways for migrants and protective reception conditions.

1. AG Nachhaltige Digitalisierung 2. Abolish Frontex 3. Access Now 4. Africa Solidarity Centre Ireland 5. AlgoRace/University of Córdoba 6. AlgorithmWatch 7. Àltera 8. Asociación Por Ti Mujer 9. Asociación Rumiñahui 10. Association for Legal Intervention (Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej) 11. AsyLex 12. Bits of Freedom 13. Blindspots 14. Bürgerrechte & Polizei/CILIP 15. CNCD-11.11.11 16. CNVOS Slovenia 17. Center for AI and Digital Policy (CAIDP) 18. Center for Information Technology and Development 19. Centre for Muslims' Rights in Denmark - CEDA 20. Centre for Peace Studies 21. Chaos Computer Club 22. Civil Liberties Union for Europe 23. Coalizione Italiana per le Libertà e i Diritti civili (CILD) 24. D64 25. Danes je nov dan, Inštitut za druga vprašanja 26. Derechos Digitales 27. Digitalcourage 28. Digitale Gesellschaft 29. Društvo Parada ponosa (Ljubljana Pride Association) 30. European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) 31. Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice 32. Equipo Decenio Afrodescendiente- España 33. 34. EuroMed Rights 35. European Civic Forum 36. European Digital Rights (EDRi) 37. European Movement Italy 38. European Network Against Racism (ENAR) 39. European Sex Workers Rights Alliance (ESWA) 40. Forum InformatikerInnen für Frieden und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung (FIfF) 41. Fundación CIVES 42. Fundacja Centrum Badań Migracyjnych 43. Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) 44. Greek Forum of Migrants 45. Greek Forum of Refugees 46. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights 47. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights 48. Homo Digitalis 49. Homo Faber Association 50. I Have Rights 51. IDAY Liberia Coalition Inc. 52. Infokolpa 53. info.nodes 54. Initiative Center to Support Social Action "Ednannia" 55. Institucion De Asuntos Culturales De España 56. Institute Circle 57. International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims 58. International Women* Space 59. Irídia - Centre per la defensa dels drets humans 60. IT-Pol Denmark 61. Ivorian Community of Greece 62. KD Gmajna 63. KOK German NGO Network against trafficking in Human Beings 64. Kif Kif vzw 65. LDH - Ligue des droits de l'Homme France 66. La Strada International 67. - Organitzacions per a la Justícia Global 68. Legal Centre Lesvos 69. Ligue algérienne pour la défense des droits de l'homme 70. Ligue des droits humains (Belgium) 71. Maison du Peuple d'Europe 72. Mobile Info Team 73. Naga 74. National Federation of Polish NGOs (OFOP) 75. netzbegrünung - Verein für Grüne Netzkultur e.V. 76. New Europeans International 77. Northern Lights Aid 78. Novact 79. Open Knowledge Foundation Germany 80. PIC - Legal Center for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment 81. Peace Institute 82. Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) 83. Polish Migration Forum Foundation (Fundacja Polskie Forum Migracyjne) 84. Polish Women's Strike 85. Politiscope 86. Privacy International 87. Privacy Network 88. Prostitution Information Center 89. Quaker Council for European Affairs 90. Queen Mary University of London 91. RED AMINVI 92. Racism and Technology Center 93. Red Umbrella Sweden 94. Refugee Law Lab, York University 95. Refugee Legal Support (RLS) 96. Revibra Europe 97. SOLIDAR & SOLIDAR Foundation 98. Samos Volunteers 99. Sans-Papiers Anlaufstelle Zürich SPAZ 100. Sea-Watch e.V. 101. Siempre vzw/asbl 102. Statewatch 103. Stichting LOS 104. Stop Wapenhandel 105. Stowarzyszenie Port, Przestrzeń otwarta 106. Taraaz 107. The Border Violence Monitoring Network 108. Waterford Integration Services 109. Yoga and Sport with Refugees 110. Zavod za kulturo raznolikosti Open


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